The Lord's Supper Service - 12-27-20
Series: Special Occasions
December 27, 2020
Christmas Communion Message
December 27, 2020
For a while now at PVFBC we’ve celebrated the Lord’s Supper on the first Sunday of the new year. That’s been intentional on my part, maybe for superstitious reasons.
See, back where I’m from there’s one thing you do on New Year’s Day and one thing you don’t.
You always cook a pot of black-eyed peas for lunch. It supposed to bring you good luck throughout the year. I have no idea why.
You never wash clothes or clean house because whatever you do the first day of the year you’ll be doing every day the rest of the year. Thankfully at my house we must have a laundry fairy because I just throw my dirty clothes in the laundry and they end up clean and back in my closet. It’s amazing.
Anyway, I kind of took that superstitious thinking and redeemed it. I wanted what we focused on the first Sunday to be our heartbeat for the rest of the year. What better than the Lord’s Supper for that?
But we’re celebrating the Lord’s Supper today and it’s not the first Sunday in 2020; it’s the last. What gives? For heaven’s sake wouldn’t we want to just get 2020 behind us?
The two Christmas messages I just preached convicted me about this. The one about how God is in control and God is uncontrollable.
Here’s the thing. If God can order all things — including world events, governments, emperors, president, kings, a census, you-name-it — to accomplish his perfect will, as he did with the birth of Christ, then he can surely do the same with what we’ve experienced in 2020, as bad as some if was.
One of the things about having a sovereign, all powerful, all knowing God is that nothing that happens on this earth happens outside his will. That means, and this is hard, I know, God allowed all this stuff to happen in 2020. God allowed a pandemic to occur. God willed the results of the recent election. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think Satan is powerful election to steal an election from the God of all creation. May not be his preference, but at the very least he had to have permitted it.
God was and is in control of 2020. It would be just like God — who is also uncontrollable, who can’t be defined or put in a box, who uses the unlikely to accomplish the unbelievable — to actually use all this mess to do something big. I find myself dwelling on the bad of 2020, but I sense God calling me to look for the good, to look for what He’s done and going to do with it.
This well known verse is more true than ever…
28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (ESV)
All things are good things and bad things.
So I decided we’d end the year with the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper is all about how God is in control and uncontrollable.
The Lord’s Supper is about how he ordered events and governors and religious leaders to do the unthinkable to his son, crucify him, and how he use that seeming defeat and tragedy to redeem all mankind. How he took the unlikely son of a poor Jewish couple and used him to humiliatingly defeat the rebellious powers of darkness that turned his good world bad back in the beginning.
Let’s cap this year off with the Lord’s Supper and let it be a statement to 2020: God is in control and he is uncontrollable.
Even though most everyone watching this morning knows what the Lord’s Supper — or communion — is, I always explain why we celebrate it because it never hurts to be reminded, and I always assume someone might be present or watching who doesn’t know.
It’s not just a ritual. It’s not just something we do. It is infused with meaning and power.
To understand what communion is (or the Lord’s Supper) and why it involves bread and juice and why we celebrate it, we have to go back to the gospels written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Each recorded in their accounts of Jesus’ life something important that happened just before he went to the cross.
It was the time of the Passover, a big celebration of the Jews where they remembered God’s delivering them from being slaves in Egypt. They had a special meal called the PASSOVER meal.
So Jesus got all the disciples together for this meal. Let’s pick up with what happened from Luke’s gospel…
Luke 22:13–20 (ESV) — …[the disciples] prepared the Passover. 14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
We regularly celebrate the Lord’s Supper because Jesus told us to, and he told us to because it reminds us of what he did for us in living the life we should have lived and dying the death we should have died on that cross 2,000 years ago. Right after they finished that meal, Jesus was arrested and then crucified.
We celebrate the Lord’s Supper because we are really celebrating Jesus. We are humbly and worshipfully acknowledging who he is as God come to us in the flesh and what he did to save us from our sins.
As we eat the bread — which symbolizes Jesus’ body that hung upon the cross — and drink the juice — which points to his blood shed on the cross — we admit our infinite and unfathomable debt towards God because of our sin while at the same time proclaim the infinite and unfathomable value of our Savior who loved us so much he paid that debt.
Tim Keller, in a sermon on the Lord’s Supper tells the story of…
… a young couple who moved into a house, rented a room. There was an elderly lady who had no heirs, no children, and she owned this huge house, but she had neither the physical capacity nor the economic wherewithal to maintain that house. She took them in as tenants. People for many years had been telling her, “You need to move out of that house. You need to sell the house. You need to do something with that house. It’s dangerous for you to be there,” but she would not admit her inadequacy. She wouldn’t admit her weakness physically. She wouldn’t admit her weakness economically.
This young couple moved into the house and they lived there for 12 years as tenants. They had three children, and they stayed in that one little room during those 12 years. They were so faithful with her. They took care of her when she was sick. They ran errands for her. They maintained the house. They repaired the house. They improved the house. There was no way she could have even stayed in the house, and yet she continued to keep them in that strange little room.
One day after the many years, a distant cousin of hers came to town, sat down, and saw the situation, and really gave her a tongue-lashing, boxed her ears. After that, she came to this young couple with tears in her eyes and she said, “You know what? I’ve been a fool. The only reason I’ve been able to live in this house is you. The only reason this house has any value to it is you. Otherwise it would have deteriorated. The only reason I’m alive today is you.
I have no rights over this house. I have no right to own it. I have no right to run it. I’m completely indebted to you, and yet I have continued to keep you the tenant and I have continued to keep the prerogatives of the owner. You have been so uncomplaining and you’ve been so patient. Your patience has melted my heart. I’m going to do as I should have done a long time ago. I’m going to do justice today. I give you the deed to the ownership of this house.
Now you run this house. Let your family fill it up. Decorate it as you want. Let the house be filled with your lives and with your joy, and all I need, all I ever needed was one room. Let me be your tenant. Let me live in this room.” There was a lot of hugging and there was a whole lot of kissing and weeping, and this older lady felt the burden of the house at last fall off of her back when she admitted it really wasn’t her house, when she admitted she couldn’t run this house, when she admitted she couldn’t be the owner, when she acknowledged the fact that this couple had earned the house, that this couple was due the house.
What does it mean for you today to acknowledge your debt? It means to come to Jesus Christ and say, “My dear Lord, I asked you into my life some years ago. I’ve tried to deal with you, but I see today that the only reason I’m alive today is because of you. The only reason I’ve been able to live is because of you. The only reason my life has any value is because of you. Yet I continue to live a life in which I tell you what to do. I continue to say, ‘Get your grubby hands off my life.’ ”
A lot of you Christian[s] …have not said, “Lord, get out of my house,” but what you’ve said is, “Lord, stay out of those rooms. This is my house. This is my life. You don’t tell me what to do over there. You stay over here. I can run this thing.” When will you come to him with tears in your eyes and say, “My life would be of no value without you; I owe you everything. I deed to you the house. Let me stay on as the tenant?” What a burden will fall off when you begin to finally realize, “Yes, he’s my Lord. That’s what I need. I need to show him and to give him what is his due. I’ve been betraying him.”
As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper on the last Sunday of 2020 let’s acknowledge our debt and pledge every room of hearts and lives to him.
A couple of things about the Lord’s Supper before we partake. It’s for those who have received the gift of what Jesus did into their lives by faith. It’s for Christians.
If you are watching today and you aren’t a Christ-follower, that is OK. You can just watch. But you don’t have to. Today you can open every room of your heart to him by taking God up on his promise to save all those who call on his name. If you’re watching and can’t celebrate with us because you’re not a Christian, why in the world wouldn’t you receive into your life what Jesus did for you like a gift today?
You can do that in just a minute as we have a time of reflection and preparation. For the rest of us, use that time to prepare your hearts. If you’re a Christian this morning and you don’t feel worthy, the table is for you!
Let’s pray, then Pastor Rob will lead us in a time of worship, then after that we will come to the Lord’s table together.
REFLECTION SONG…. “Once Again”
Instrumental music playing — at least 60 seconds before “Broken Vessels” begins
Hopefully you picked up your communion kits but if not just grab some crackers and juice.
If you have one of these just peel back the first layer and take that little piece of bread and hold it in your hands. Otherwise just break off a piece of your cracker. I’m going to read what Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth concerning the Lord’s Supper…
1 Corinthians 11:23–26 (ESV) — 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
SONG…. “Broken Vessels”
Nothing but the Blood Instrumental music playing — at least 60 seconds before “Broken Vessels” begins
Now peel back the second layer and hold the cup. Have your glass of juice ready otherwise. I’m going to continue with our text in 1 Corinthians, pray, and then we’ll partake…
25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
VIDEO…. “Nothing but the Blood.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Not only do we celebrate Jesus’ dying the death we should have died, we proclaim the truth that he’s coming back which means he did not stay dead!
We are one Christmas closer to his return!
Happy New Year Everyone. I love you all.
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